Dancing Tapestries


Darwin Civic Gardens, Darwin City

September 24, 1989

A community dance event presented by Brown’s Mart Community Dance program, with a meal and performance. This project was the culmination of two months of workshops. The aim was to get Darwin people of all ages to come together and be ‘actively’ involved, and to head towards a performance. A tremendous spirit of cooperation was achieved in a non-competitive atmosphere. The process was given a great deal of focus and was as important as the finished performance product.

Mini Performances took place in September at Nungalinya College (19th), Mindil Beach Markets (21st), Tracey Lodge Seniors Home (22nd), and Palmerston Markets (22nd).


The foundations of community, and later professional dance in the Northern Territory, were firmly laid by Maggi Phillips, who arrived in Darwin in 1974. In the rapidly changing and developing social era of post-Cyclone Tracy, Maggi (as Brown’s Mart Community Dance Officer) established Darwin Dance Mob. In 1980 She was appointed Director of Dance at Brown’s Mart and this led, in 1984 to the formation of Feats Unlimited, a professional performing Dance-in-Education company. Feats worked in Darwin and throughout the Northern Territory until 1987. On recommendations from Maggi, Sarah Calver was appointed as Dance Development Officer to provide performance projects with both focus and higher profile for local dance activity.

In 1988, Beth Shelton, Maggi Phillips, Sarah Calver and Tim Newth headed a four-month community dance project: Dance on Darwin. Dancing Tapestries was funded by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council, NT Government, Australian Association for Dance Education (NT) with assistance from Brown's Mart and was originally devised to employ Beth Shelton, to run a 10 week residency. Following Beth’s appointment as co-artistic Director of Dance-Works in Melbourne, Marita Smith assumed the position.

Creative Personnel

Sarah Calver: Choreographer, Teacher, Dancer
Maggi Phillips: Teacher
Marita Smith: Teacher, Choreographer


Four Community Dance groups taught by Sarah Calver; 3-9 year olds, 9-15 years old (Palmerston), an adult group (roughly 15-30), and older adults group (45-74)
Three schools. Sarah and Marita taught here: St Andrew Lutheran Primary School, St John’s Secondary College, Casuarina Secondary College
Two Ballet Schools: Palmerston Ballet, Lilli Vita School of Ballet
Folk Dance Enthusiast: Sue Ross
Nungalinya College: Combined Church college for Aboriginal people
No Strings Attached: singers who harmonize with musical accompaniment
The Papua New Guinea Dancers


Have You Ever
Have you ever spread jam on ham?
Have you ever put spice on rice?
Have you ever taken pink icecream with bacon?
You'll find that they're ever so nice (Barbara ireson)
Choreography: Marita Smith and cast
Music: Penguin Café Orchestra
Performers: St Andrew Lutheran Primary School transition year one: Alana, Angela, Brodie, Dale, Daniel, Jared, Jim, Jordan, Josephine, Kara, Kylie, Louise, Mackinlee, Ned, Peter, Robyn, Sandra, Stephen, Travas
Saturday group: Sonya McDermott, Amy, Lily Coates, Lawrence Gray, Stephanie, Virginia and Lily Hardy-Busler

Stick to the Rhythm
Derived from a traditional Papua New Guinea Stick Dance, the performers and Sarah used the rhythm of the dance to create and inspire other movements that they joined in a modern dance sequence. It is a dance showing both new and old styles using the stick as the main prop.
Choreography: Sarah Calver and cast
Music: Bobby McFerrin
Performers: Jenny, Emma, Terry-Anne, Amy, Wendy, Jasmine, Adriana, Antoinette, Nicole and Tamara

Sister Kate
Choreography: Marita Smith
Music: No Strings Attached – Alex and Richenda Bridge, Cathy Flint, Marianne Piercy, Jane Carpenter, Tony Suttor.
Performers: Stephanie, Vanya, Kim, Jenny, Kirin, Nathalie (Lily Vita Students)

Les Petites Sucettes
Choreography: Marita Smith
Music: On the Good Ship Lollypop – Shirley Temple
Performers: Rachel, Bridget, Hannah, Katinka, Susannah, Nathalie, Rikkaine, Anna (Lily Vita Students)

Las Sevillanas
A Popular dance from Seville in Southern Spain.
Music: Los Romeros
Performers: Lisa, Danielle, Rebecca, Jenny, Michaela, Helen (Lily Vita Students) with Sarah Calver and Marita Smith

Cante Jondo
The arms and footwork which characterises the Flamenco style
Music: Los Romeros
Performer: Marita Smith

Cha Cha
The Cha Cha, an old time favourite, interwoven with modern dance movements
Choreography: Sarah Calver and Cast
Music: The London Palais Dance Orchestra
Performers: Willis Gerrig, Elsie Thompson, Marie Porter, Barbara Fletcher, Jo Davis, Margaret Wight, Joy Soullier, Lila Prochazka, Audrey Gorring and Glad Morris

Simple Pleasures
Special thanks to the women of Nungalinya College who screen-printed the fabric used in this piece.
Choreography: Marita Smith and Cast
Music: Bobby McFerrin
Performers: Bernice Franklin, Angela, Babe, Kim, Felicity, Leanne, Lena, Ingrid Ulpin, Sarah Calver, Morris Pitt, Frank Kraus, John, Alistair

No Strings Attached
Songs: Dilmano Dilmano, Blues Stay Away From Me
Performers: No Strings Attached

On The Fringe
Choreography: Marita Smiths
Music: Kilamankou Denkou
Performers: Angela, Babe, Berenice Franklin, Marita, Sarah

Folk Dance
Zemir Atik – This is a slow and graceful Yeminite dance, and the words of the song say ‘We will return again to ancient tunes.’
Music: Nigan Atic sung by No Strings Attached and accompanied by Brendon Williams playing whistle.
Ceresna – A Macedonian wedding dance
Boanopstekker – a social dance of the Netherlands
Performers: Dance Mob Older Adults: Willis Gerrig, Elsie Thompson, Marie Porter, Barbara, Joy Soullier, Margaret Wight, Jo Davis, Lila Prochazka, Audrey Gorring, Glad Morris


Dance Development Office: Sarah Calver

[Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]



Explore Further

Participation Projects


“All Darwin joined in the tapestry of dance, community dance event that brought together hoofers aged 4 – 77 in a wonderful weave of movement, sound, silks, and sticks for one night only. Despite the hard work, what came across to the audience was primarily the terrific fun everyone involved has had preparing for Tapestries … Above all it was evident in the faces of the performers as they laughed, and shared the joy of performance with each other, and the audience. Dancing tapestries has shown that Darwinites want to dance.”  June Kane Northern Territory News, September 25, 1989

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